11 May 2015

America Reads 2014-2015 May Blog Prompt


ATTN: America Reads Tutors

Over the last two semesters what has changed about your perspective and knowledge about your America Reads community partner? How did you use your skills & knowledge to benefit the students?  What skills did you discover or improve that will benefit your future career?




26 comments:

  1. My America Reads community partner is an elementary school in the Salt Lake City school district. It has been an experience that has shown me how hard it can be to make tutoring an extension of a student's education and an aid in areas they struggle with if the teachers and administration are not trained as to how to work with me. I thankfully have some training and experience working with Language Arts and Math Specialists on how tutors and teacher's aids help the teacher. I have even had specific training on a reading intervention program called, Next Steps, which I feel was extremely beneficial in seeing what to do with a struggling reader. I have so far, not been able to utilize that program in a way that would reap the full benefits for a student.
    This critique of the school i tutor at doesn't mean that I do not like working there. It has been great to work with kids that really need all the help they can get and I have enjoyed the variety of tasks that teachers have given me to do. I just see that my time would be more effective if I were working with the resource program or another person to oversee the needs of students not in the resource program who are receiving tutoring.
    Overall, my experience has been a good one and I have been able to use all my past experience as a teacher's aid to navigate a busy school, so that I am able to help a child practice their reading or spelling. I think the thing I have learned the most about is what is and isn't effective in getting help with some aspect of tutoring and how to communicate with school administration about the needs of the program. I love this program and have seen that it is a valuable addition to any school, no matter how well it is implemented.

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    1. I would concur that adding this program to any school is valuable. Also, communication is important for the students, teachers, tutors, parents and everyone else involved. It sounds like you have a lot of experience. I'm glad that you're doing your part to help our community. America Reads is an amazing program with spectacular people. I have seen that the tutors care about their students growth. We also care for each other and help each other. Have a good summer!

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    2. I did tutoring at Whittier and trying to work together with the teachers was a challenge as well, since most of them expect you to just do your own thing, and I'm not very knowledgable about tutoring struggling kids but I have definitely learned a lot and I'm starting to enjoy that freedom. -B.F

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  2. I started out tutoring at an elementary school. I really enjoyed this and the children really needed the tutoring. I was also tutoring with the YMCA. We wanted to give back to the school that my husband went to. We worked there fro a semester and then the YMCA decided they wanted you to be exclusively working for them.
    We were put in charge of getting a reading program together so they could test the children and see if the children were at their reading level or not. This took us most of the semester to get this up and approved by the YMCA. We also catalogued their books and graded them by reading levels. We got to test the children with the test we put together. We found that some children were way above their reading level and then the 1st or 2nd graders were reading way below their level.
    The YMCA is in such need of volunteers and the people come from all countries and different income levels. They have summer camps and camps throughout the year as well as school or homework programs through the school year.
    We get to go to their meetings and learn what is going on there.
    This is something I have done for many years through out my life and enjoy the children and the atmosphere of the YMCA. I see how some adults are too stricet with some kids and very lenient with others and seeing that some children just get overlooked now matter how good they are, When I am there I am positive and let the children know they are good people. If they struggle with reading then I tell them where they are doing good and focus on the good. A child who struggles usually focuses on how terrible he or she is in reading and may be told that so they do not believe they can read at all or good at anything. You see self esteem issues in some children while others thrive because they are praised so much,
    The thing I have seen and learned is that everyone needs praise and that praise brings up their self-esteem and self-worth which are two different things.

    BOO

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    1. I like how you utilize the strengths perspective. Meaning, that when you see a student doing well, you'll let them know where they're doing well. I think that focusing on what's right about someone is vastly more beneficial than focusing on what's wrong with people. Unfortunately, we live in a society that - at times - focuses on the negative aspects of a particular person, rather than that of their positive aspects. Furthermore, self-esteem and self-worth are two crucial aspects that may benefit a student and their learning abilities. If a student knows that he/she is worth it, I think they will go the extra mile to accomplish his/her goals! Thanks for sharing - Austin

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  3. In the last two semesters, my perspective on Nibley Park has grown immensely. I now have a slight understanding of the limited resources that are available to this school. There are amazing instructors and educators that work for Nibley Park. Moreover, Nibley Park has implemented various programs to help their students obtain a better education. I'm amazed at the patience, respect, and knowledge that many of the educators, teachers, and fellow tutors have. As a tutor, I have utilized several techniques to get the students engaged in what they're reading. When the student can see how eager I am to learn about the book, they too share this passion. I find that having a sense of humor with the students is beneficial. This tool can be utilized when a student is down, or doesn't feel like reading. It's fantastic to learn from the other tutors. I have seen how effective their methods are with reaching to the students. Therefore, I like to have many tactics to help the student accomplish their reading goals for the day/week. Also, I took notes on words or phrases that students were having trouble with. During most subsequent tutoring times, I would quiz the students with the words or phrases that they were struggling with. It was fascinating to see the growth of students through various methods of tutoring. The growth was very gradual; however, looking through my notes, I could see their improvements. I have learned so much about myself and the community through American Reads. I understand that patience is a virtue. I now understand the importance of communication and transparency as it relates to education and life in general. Furthermore, I have learned how to be self-aware. I find that it will be helpful in my future career(s) to know what is going on with me, why am I feeling this way, and what can I do to change my attitude or perspective that is conducive to the situation that I am in. I have also improved on my work-ethic while trusting the other tutors. Lastly, I see our community in a vastly new light: I see that we're all connected and that we can be the change that we want to see in our society.

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    1. I'm so glad I've had other tutors at my school so that I can ask them what methods they are using or what they would recommend with certain kids since we do tutor some of the same kids. They have been such a great help. -B.F

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  4. My community partner is not the most well equipped to handle the large amount of students who are falling behind in reading and other subjects. The students need more attention, and though we as tutors do our best, we can't be there 24/7.
    I used my years of experience in reading and literature to help introduce my students to more complex terms and facilitate greater learning.
    The skill I have improved the most from tutoring is my patience. I am more willing and able to take time and listen to my students.

    AS

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  5. Crystaldawn EarlFriday, May 15, 2015

    Coming back to the America Reads program this semester was an amazing joy for me. I love that I was able to come back to my community partner, Nibley Park Elementary, and work with new kids.
    I didn't know who I was going to work with, or the approach I was going to need to take. I had the opportunity to see that each kid I worked with had different levels of learning and reading. And even though I would try and stick to one lesson for each kid at the beginning, I soon learned that I needed to have a different approach. Not everyone learns the same way. And sometimes I think as people, we forget that.
    The skills that I learned from working under the America Reads program is patience and understanding that no one is the same in learning. Some learn by visual, while others learn by repetition or action. We are not the same, but in time we do learn the skills we need for education and our future careers.

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    1. I am glad you could come back! I think it is so great to be able to work with many types of learners and ages. It gives a lot of practice for being a mom and for dealing with others in life. I especially, like that a simple story can be new each time i read it with another student, because of how I might adjust the focus according to their reading level and comprehension. It is definitely a fun way to earn my award and feel I'm making a difference all at the same time.

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    2. I enjoy that you brought up the subject of how many different ways there are to learn. That has been my biggest thing about school. Teachers teach a certain way and sometimes that teacher does not match my way of learning. Using patience with me is so important because the more you are patient with me the more confident I get in that subject and have a better understanding. I believe this is so true for the children we tutor as well. I enjoy tutoring and have found that I do need to have patience and that I do have patience with the children.

      BOO

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  6. I learned the YMCA existed at the beginning of the fall semester, and I was incredibly excited to work there. I’m beginning to know the Y inside and out, and my knowledge is highly valuable to them. I have built relationships with all of the kids there, not just with the ones I read with. Now, I’m excited to begin my summer job with them. I used my knowledge of the Thayne Center’s grants to supply their Y store. The teachers in the after school programs hand out brain bucks to those that are working on their homework the entire time, and the kids buy toys with the “money” they are given. The kids love the toys in the store, and it’s a big incentive for them to work hard. I learned how important setting up expectations are with the kids and being consistent with following up with them is. I learned how well kids do if you involve them in the plans of their future and the implementation of it. I have learned how to control a crowd of kids during this time, which is harder than it looks. There’s a unique set of skills I have acquired that help me grab their attention and hold it the entire time I’m talking. My career is fairly different than anything that has to do with child care, but I had a safe place to hone and shape my public speaking skills thanks to my time with my community partner. If I ever have a management position in the future, my skills are going to be nice and polished. I learned that being a leader means involving everyone in the group, and the best way to do that is by creating a relationship with each member. Despite the differences in my career and America Reads, I still have taken away invaluable skills that will benefit my future career.
    Jeslicania

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    1. That is great that you have found a use for the skills you are learning as a tutor. I can agree that working well with many kinds of people is invaluable in many careers. I have also benefited from having to work with so many people and feel I am way more flexible than I used to be. I love seeing other utilizing the grant program as I did, it is a great help to the schools. So glad you have made your own place in the program, it makes it so much better when lots of different people get involved and can share their talents!

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  7. I am so sad that summer has come, I love spending my days at Nibley Park. In September I noted how wonderful all the teachers were I believe that is still true. However over the last two semesters the respect I had for the staff at Nibley Park grew. I noticed that the staff had so much on their plate, I saw that like all there were days when they weren't feeling well, or there were personal problems and yet they were still smiling and they were still so kind to their students. They all have such desire to see them succeed, and this positive energy traveled to the reading center. All of us tutors enjoyed the time we spent with our students,we were patient and we were silly. I saw that as a skill. There aren't many adult that are able to let go of all worries,and to-do lists to able to come in and laugh with the kids.

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  8. The past 2 semesters I have had the privilege of tutoring at Nibley Park Elementary. It has been a fun teaching and learning experience. Sherrie has always been an amazing person to go to with questions and for support. I had the opportunity to work with 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders this semester and really enjoyed working with the different groups. The 3rd graders that I worked with were some of the top readers in Ms. Beebe’s class. My job was to read a chapter book with them and teach them how to pick out the main idea of each chapter, teaching comprehension skills and also how to write book reports. I worked with 2 different groups of 5 students. I liked this because I felt like I was assisting so many students at one time, not only in reading but in social skills, listening and communication skills as we worked together as a group. I had the opportunity to take a Child Guidance class this semester. I learned so much about how to teach and work with children of different ages. One thing I learned is that when a child has a strong understanding of math skills, their reading skills improve. I learned this late in the semester, so this Summer I am doing some planning and research on how to implement math skills and reading skills, hopefully with results of better readers. As we all know not all of us learn the same way. I am interested to find out if reading skills improve as I use some math skills also. I found that some days it was okay to just talk to the students. Let them share how they are feeling or something interesting that is going on in their life. Drawing pictures, singing songs, reading books together and making up stories were so much fun. Reading isn’t just about sounding out the words in a book. It is encouraging children to use their imaginations and to be creative in their ideas. I also learned in my class that children learn best through positive strategies. I find that when I have a positive attitude about learning that my students also develop a positive attitude about learning. I look forward to being able to continue to work with the students at Nibley Park Elementary. I have gotten to know many of the teachers and many of the students, even though I don’t work with all of them, they know who I am and that I represent America Reads. I am proud to be a part of this great program.

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    1. LeeAnn, you are an amazing tutor and the children love working with you. Thank you for sharing your insights and helping us other tutors out. I am glad that we have the opportunity to work together again.
      H.P.

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  9. Over past two semesters at Nibley Park Elementary, I have had great experience through American Reads. I have met amazing people and also I had great time working with students while I was tutoring. Even though I didn’t have that much experience and I had some challenges with some kids, but I learned how to used different techniques with a positive attitude to encourage the students also, remind them why they are here. This helped me communicate with my students. Since I start tutoring I gained confidence and I learn how to communicate with students with different levels of reading. Most importantly through volunteering with American Read I discovered different skills I didn’t know I had and expanded my knowledge.

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    1. Tutoring also helped me gain a lot more confidence in my abilities to communicate effectively with other people and handle large groups of students at one time. I learned a bunch of neat tricks and things from just observing the teachers in the classroom. Like how to use humor to make a grumpy kid cooperate, or how to keep a large group of kids paying attention by reading with different voices. -B.F

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    2. Even though you may have not noticed the skills that you had, us other tutors say your amazing skills and say how much the children loved working with you! You are a wonderful tutor and I have learned things from you that I will incorporate in my tutorings.
      H.P.

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  10. It has become clear to me over these 2 semesters how valuable the America Reads tutors really are to our community partners. I now work with the YMCA at their Taylorsville location at least 3 time a week. I have seen the enthusiasm among the paid staff increase as they have become familiar with the skills and optimism of the America Reads volunteers. The staff tell me that this fall they will set a goal to have every student reading at grade level or above by the end of the school year. They are currently searching for a program that will let them use the AR volunteers to aid them in achieving that goal. If they cannot find an already existing program they will design their own.
    I have also seen that we help the YMCA with much more than reading. The YMCA always maintains a minimum ratio of adults to children. When I am tutoring a child in reading fundamentals in one corner of the room I count as an adult in the room. This frees a staff member to do higher level tasks. As my presence percolates up through the system it results in the senior staff being able to get more of their work done. So even if I am not working on those things, my tutoring a child also helps pick up and drop of children, administer first aid to an injured child, discipline unruly children, counsel children who have been hurt emotionally, and raise funds for the program. All this while Matt and I are reading the B book about bears bicycling backwards.

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    1. Way to go! I love how you show the ripple effect of your efforts at the YMCA. It is true that we do more than just tutor for our community partner schools and organizations. I love hearing about the progress at the Y, it is a great resource and I am glad to hear it is working to do even more. I have worked with many kids using the Early Steps and Next Steps programs, which are utilized in the Granite school district. They are for reading interventions and small group work. It would be a great program to use if the YMCA can look into it.

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    2. The little children or pre-school children do use that program daily. However for the older ones they do not use that program. We have found some that are real good and free if the staff wants to use them. There are programs from pbs.org, uen network. and child development site. There are some real good program out that that are free and some real good ones that do cost but get the reading level of a child or adult up the 3-5 grade levels in a 30-60 days.
      I enjoy putting programs together and doing research.

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    3. I agree that working with the YMCA is so much more than just tutoring. You do not know from day to day what you will be asked to do. Yet we do it willingly because it will help out the children as well as the staff. The staff interact very well with the children. Because there are so many different program there we can be asked to help out in the kindergarten classes, pre-school classes, homework time and reading time as well as just being a body there for numbers of adults to children.
      I enjoy working at the YMCA.

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  11. My community partner has a large amount of kids that need extra help with tutoring, and there just isn't enough of us to go around. There also isn't the necessary space to tutor kids and the communication between teachers and tutors is really hard to navigate. If anything I'd like to create some type of packet that teachers can give to tutors with certain things they want the tutor to go over. It would also be very helpful to have a room to tutor in. There's just little things like that where it can be improved on, and with our help I can start to see it happening. A couple of skills I found out I have is that I am a fairly good communicator and really good listener, and sometimes thats just what a kid needs when they are having a bad day. I'm also really good with making a shy kid come out of their shell a little bit or helping kids get a long a little bit better. Working at Whittier especially taught me to be resourceful with things. I also helped out in the computer lab a few times and found out I'm pretty good with finding lost files lol. I think those skills will apply both within tutoring and outside tutoring, especially the listening skills and resourcefulness. -B.F

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    1. I think packets is a good idea but I just wonder if they would have time to do them with their busy schedules. I completely understand the frustration too with teachers not adequately explaining what they would like done, glad to hear you were able to push through and get the job done.
      H.P.

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  12. I still love my community partner, especially the staff and children. Over these last semesters I have come to see that there is a need for more of us tutors. Those of us that are there are doing our very best but can use more help not just for us but for the children as well. With having low resources we really honed in on our skills as individuals and as a group. Some of my skills that were strengthened were communication, listening, flexability, teamwork, and organiziational. These skills that I have improved on will help me in my life and career when dealing with others or if ever put in a short staffed situation again.
    H.P.

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